Monday, 8 September 2014

Achievement unlocked - 20 mile charity walk and 50,000 steps in one day!

After months of training and lots of pre-event jitters, I am pleased to announce that the Nerd and I completed the Weekend to End Women's Cancers 1-day charity walk here in Toronto, along with the rest of our Coca-Cola Canada team and more than 3,000 other walkers. 
The walk training schedule that got us to the end intact

Let's start off with the training.  A good friend recommended that we follow a training schedule to get our bodies (and especially our feet) in condition for the Walk, and I have to say that this is a definite key to our success and enjoyment of the event.  Sore feet are no fun at all from what we could see from other walkers, and we were blissfully free of any blisters or chafing to speak of.  Physically, aside from being tired and sweaty (in other words, super glamorous), we had absolutely no sequellae from the Walk.  In fact, we were basically back to normal the very next day, something I did not expect. 

The next day, both the Nerd and I felt fine, albeit a little more tired in the legs than usual during our normal workouts.  We slept great the evening of the walk, and had no significant leg pain to speak of.  And this morning it was back to my normal elliptical routine with 60 minutes on the elliptical, and I felt great (other than the fact that I was on the elliptical machine for 60 minutes, that is!).  Although I did begrudge the time spent doing the training walks when we were doing them, the training and preparation sure paid off.  I know it is possible to do the Walk without training at all, but we had more fun than some of the people who did not prepare simply because our conditioning was exactly what we needed and because we felt fine all the way through. 

Before the Walk - a little nervous...and damp
The walk to the Skydome from our place was rainy, and although we had completed numerous training walks in everything from high humidity to drizzles to torrential downpours, a rainy day would have promised to make a long walk feel just that much longer. 

Fortunately for us though, although it started off grey and drizzly, the day quickly cleared up into intermittent sun and clouds, not too hot, and with a nice breeze.  Perfect walking conditions, in other words.
Waiting for the start
Before the walk we met with the rest of the Coca-Cola team, listened to bursts of almost entirely incomprehensible noise from the loudspeakers (apparently these were motivational speeches, but between distortion and echoes from loud noise in a largely empty stadium, I could barely understand a word) and avoided doing any of the stretching that our other Walkers engaged in. 

Traffic jam
We did not train with stretching and had no problems along the way, and I didn't want to change things up at the 11th hour.  I was comforted in this decision by thinking back on dinner with friends the night before where one was espousing the benefits of being a "supple leopard" - - after all, leopards do not stretch before chasing down prey, so why do we?  I won't claim to be anything close to "supple" (I'm more of a stiff plank, myself), but we are none the worse for having not stretched at all during the day.  I noticed that other walkers were stretching at almost every rest stop, and it allowed us to get ahead of a lot of people simply because we did not stop other than for lunch, and once to eat some fruit at a pit stop.

With the speeches done it was time to hit the road...only to get caught up in the mother of all traffic jams made up of literally thousands of walkers.  Toronto traffic is bad at the best of times, and it is good to know that sidewalk traffic can be just as messed up.  It was worst at the start, but equally bad on some of the small neighborhood streets we were traversing, simply because the sidewalks there were never designed for foot traffic in our numbers. 

Although our team wanted to walk together, we were pretty far back in the pack and the Nerd and I are impatient people by nature so he and I tried to follow our natural pace that quickly took us closer to the front.  It turns out that we finished reasonably far ahead of the rest of our team, but as everyone had fun and made it to the end, I think it still counts as mission accomplished for us all.

One of the more moving moments of the Walk was when we passed Princess Margaret Hospital (the recipient of our fundraising dollars) and ran a veritable gauntlet of doctors and patients cheering us all on.  I am not ashamed to admit that I got a little misty eyed at that point, which I am blaming on air pollution or someone cutting onions in the vicinity rather than the attack of the feels which it really was.  Very moving, to say the least, especially when you consider that all we were doing was spending one day taking rather a longer walk than usual, and those people are fighting the battle against cancer every single day.  I tried to clap and cheer them, but I do not know if they could hear me over the general cacophony.
The 2014 Walk to End Women's Cancers Walk Route - Day 1
Our route took us all over the midtown and west areas of Toronto, generally no further north than Bloor Street and out past High Park (the big green bit in the map above) to the Humber River valley.  We did not go into High Park itself which I found surprising, but it probably would have resulted in shorter mileage, given its location relative to downtown.  Although much of our walk was familiar, we got to discover some new bits too, like the Humber River valley south of our walk last weekend.  Once we hit the Waterfront Trail after lunch I knew we were within 6 miles of home, because this had been part of our first long training walk, the one that saw me almost crippled at 8 miles.  Now here I was at 14+ miles feeling fine and passing people.  Yay for training and gradually building up distances.

The very final stretch was through another gauntlet of cheering volunteers into the Skydome itself with our arrival announced via the PA system to all in the area and our faces on the jumbotron.  Well, the Nerd's face and the top of my head, probably, as I kept looking down at the stairs we had to descend to make sure I did not wipe out in front of all and sundry (I remained trip free on the day, yipee, although I did get stepped on once and elbowed once in the chest - ouch!). 
After the walk, glad to be done!

Once we arrived we took stock and were pleased to note that our only physical symptoms after our long walk was a little stiffness and tiredness in the legs.  We were feeling so fine that we walked the mile and a half home and even did a little grocery shopping, although we perhaps looked a little more bedraggled than usual.  Understand me when I say that bedraggled is probably being kind. 

We had one additional win for the day, as if doing a good deed, pushing our limits, and discovering hidden strengths was not enough - - both the Nerd and I topped out at more than 50,000 steps during the day, the first time either of us have done that. 

And to think, all it took was spending 6 hours walking 22 miles (give or take, including the walks to and from the Skydome).  Trust me when I say that this feat will not soon be replicated, at least not by me!

Would I do it again?  Very likely, if I am still at my current company.  After all, now they know I can do it, so there's no excuse not to do it again...but we don't need to worry about that right now.  All that matters is that there are no training walks for me in the near future - - any walks I take will be for fun...and maybe for fitness.

Back to the normal routine tomorrow!

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